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Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the latest expected timing is of the (a) (i) start and (ii) completion of Stage 1 and (b) the delivery of the new units to the Thameslink franchise for Phase 1. 
Paul Clark: The Thameslink timetable change which comes into effect on 22 March 2009 marks the start of the Key Output One stage of the Thameslink Programme. This stage is due for completion in March 2012.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what provisions of EU directives within his Department's responsibilities have not yet been transposed into United Kingdom law; in respect of the provisions of which such directives the UK has been subject to infringement action by the European Commission since January 2005; and what stage has been reached in such actions in each case. 
Five are the subject of Article 226 Letters.
Four are at the Article 226 Reasoned Opinion stage.
Four were the subject of infringement proceedings that have since been closed or withdrawn.
11 are not yet subject to infringement proceedings by the Commission.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with train operators about services which did not operate on 2 February 2009; and what steps are being taken to prevent a recurrence of those problems. 
Paul Clark: Of the just over 18,000 trains due to have run on 2 February, nearly 9,000 reached their destination on time and another 2,000 ran but arrived late. The remaining 7,000 were cancelled, most of them on routes south of the Thames.
The provision of train services is a matter for operators and I am satisfied that they understand the need to have arrangements in place to deal with exceptional weather. Ministers have not therefore sought to discuss train performance on 2 February with them.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 16 December 2008, Official Report, column 613W, on vehicle number plates: flags, when he plans to make an announcement on the way forward. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government are bringing forward the new legislation to legalise the display of national flags on number plates in GB as soon as possible. It is expected, subject to the outcome of an informal consultation, that the revised regulations will come into force around the end of April 2009.
Paul Clark [h olding answer 11 February 2009]: A cross-industry working group led by Network Rail is assessing the case for electrifying a wide range of lines. The group is expected to publish its conclusions at the end of March.
If costs can be reduced and funding identified, it would be for Merseytravel to consider whether a Bidston to Wrexham scheme is suitable to promote for major scheme funding via its local transport plan, provided that this is endorsed as a priority as part of the regional funding allocation process.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Prime Minister which of the public appointments for which he is responsible are due to be (a) renewed and (b) filled in the next 24 months; what the (i) remit, (ii) salary, (iii) political restrictions, (iv) eligibility requirement and (v) timetable for each appointment is; and what records his Office keeps in respect of such appointments. 
The Prime Minister: Information on public appointments I make are published on the No. 10 website and announced to Parliament where appropriate. More detailed information about individual appointments is set out in the relevant body's annual report. Vacancies may also be advertised on the Cabinet Office Public Appointments website at
The process for making a public appointment, including guidance on political activity and eligibility criteria, follows the Cabinet Office publication Making and Managing Public Appointments. For appointments regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the appointments process also complies with the "Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies". Copies are in the Libraries of the House.
Cancellation is considered in cases where retention of the appointment or award would bring the honours system into disrepute. There are no set guidelines for cancellations, which are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Prime Minister to what events held in the United Kingdom to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel he has been invited; what such invitations he has (a) accepted and (b) declined; and if he will make a statement. 
8. David Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what HM Revenue and Customs most recent estimate is of the annual cost to the Exchequer of tax avoidance in the corporate sector; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: Due to its nature, it is difficult to be precise about the scale of avoidance. The most recent estimate, published by HMRC last March but relating to the start of the decade, showed corporate tax avoidance to be in the range £2.1 billion to £6.6 billion per year. HMRC continues to close down loopholes as it becomes aware of them.
9. Jo Swinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on the remuneration packages for senior executives of banks which are in temporary public ownership or which have received recapitalisation funding from the public purse; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: For those banks that we recapitalised last October there were conditions imposed in relation to bank lending and restrictions on rewards for senior executives and on payment of dividends.
The Governments recapitalisation scheme has helped to reduce the inter-bank lending rate, and the cost of insuring inter-bank lending through credit default swaps. As a result the price of wholesale fundingthe money the banks use to finance lending to their customershas come down considerably.
19. Simon Hughes: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on remuneration packages for staff of banks which are in temporary public ownership or which have received recapitalisation funding from the public purse. 
Ian Pearson: UK Financial Investments (UKFI) has been set up to manage the Treasurys shareholding in recapitalised banks. UKFI has a role in scrutinising banks compliance with the recapitalisation conditions, and also in scrutinising banks remuneration policiesto protect the interests of the taxpayer as a major shareholder.
The Government have rightly been closely involved in decisions on rewards for senior executivesthose who made the decisions that brought the banks into difficulty. We have ensured that none of the banks accessing the recapitalisation scheme will award cash bonuses for 2008 to board members.
10. Hugh Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with his European counterparts on measures to reduce the effects of the global economic downturn in EU member states. 
Angela Eagle: The Chancellor of the Exchequer and Treasury Ministers attend regular meetings of EU Ministers, including the Council of Economic and Finance Ministers (ECOFIN). These discussions cover a wide range of issues including the co-ordination of measures among EU member states. The European economic recovery plan, as agreed by the December European Council, outlined a range of measures for member states to enact a co-ordinated response to the economic downturn.
Yvette Cooper: The IMF holds bilateral discussions with each of its member countries, usually every year as part of its country surveillance function, under Article IV of the IMFs articles of agreement. IMF staff last visited London in May 2008 and met with various institutions including HM Treasury to discuss issues relating to the economy. The Government of course continue also to work closely with the IMF and other international partners in responding to the financial crisis.
Mr. Timms: The Governments most recent forecasts were published at the pre-Budget report. We will publish updated forecasts at the time of Budget 2009, as is normal practice. This will include a full assessment of developments and prospects for the world and UK economies, based on all relevant factors.
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